Wednesday, September 22, 2021

IBS-15 Resources in your Study Bible


Big Idea: How and where to easily find background information notably in your Study Bible.

Where can I find that?

The joke is that Inductive Bible Study is getting “in da Bible. ” Commentaries are off limits till you have simply read the Bible and pondered over it. In the interpretation phase one starts looking at resources. Commentaries should be your last search.

Where would one find background information?  In a good study Bible and resource books. Some of these are found online too.

Pray for God’s guidance as you choose resources. They are useful, but Study Bibles and commentaries are man’s reflection, not inspired by God. Serious study and prayer has gone into them but there will be doctrinal bias because they are the work of human beings. 

The ABC's of Interpretation suggest verifying the author, audience written to, date written, themes, genre of writing and more. All these and much more can often be found in a Study Bible in the book introduction. YouVersion NIV also offers book introductions.  

Valuable Resources for Interpretation

1. Book introduction.  Often includes author, audience, date, outline, themes, genre. Found in study Bibles, Bible handbooks,  Bible websites such as,  Youversion at also have introductions with the NIV Bible.

Finding YouVersion chapter introductions

2. Timelines and period maps. In order to understand time period, location of the story, movement of people groups the timelines and period maps are useful (such as Exodus desert wandering, Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, etc). Found in study Bibles,  Bible handbooks,  Bible websites such as,

3. Cross references. Many Bibles, including some regular Bibles, have cross references. These indicate other places with a similar references or backstory. Marked by a small letter usually in margin or at the  bottom of page. 

4. Concordance. Many study Bibles have a concordance which is an alphabetical index of key words in the Bible, with their reference. It is very useful. For instance, you want find the reference for the verse about the pearl of great price. Look under P in the concordance.  There are a lot of applications for using a concordance, especially Strong’s exhaustive concordance. 

5. Charts, Lists and Illustrations. Many study Bibles and Bible handbooks have a lot of charts and illustrations. They provide invaluable information giving  perspective.


  • Prophesies of Jesus’ birth
  • The Tabernacle and the Temple with placement of sacred objects
  • Kings of Israel and Judah
  • Spiritual gifts
  • Names of God
  • Timeline of the life of the Apostle Paul

6. Notes and commentaries. The bottom of a Study Bible page usually has historical notes and commentary to shed light on a passage. It might note the modern equivalent of money or time of day. It could explain a cultural habit or an archeological find that sheds light. Commentary notes give additional understanding to a verse. It is good to check out a couple of study Bibles or commentaries and compare them.

More information is ahead on how to use various resources.


This is fifteenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

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1. Do you own a Study Bible? Do you use any of the feature? What have you used most and why do you find it helpful?

2. If you have a Study Bible take a look at the table of contents and look in the back of it too. Is there something in it you never looked at before? When or how might it be useful to your study?

If you have never looked at a Study Bible or don’t have one, take a look inside the first few pages of an electronic Bible on Amazon kindle. It is NIV Version but it is only $14.99 as I write this which is an excellent sale. It is an interesting Bible and easy to look around on Amazon.

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